I can’t help but think this idea would have been better served as a TV series than an OVA, but then that’s usually my opinion about these things. It’s a big, complicated story and the loss of momentum from the long breaks between chapters dulls the overall impact for me. Still, it seems fitting that TnQ should appear now because it’s about as retro as you can get, and retro is definitely one of the prevailing winds in anime at the moment, especially retro sci-fi.
I was hoping we might get a little more time dedicated to the flashback sequences from part 3, and a little more clarification of just what happened to Towa, and made Quon what he is now. What we know, we know by allusion – Quon is very, very old – thousands of years old, in fact. His entire life of good deeds seems to be a sort of attempt at redemption for past deeds, most likely a killing spree he went on when his tribe was attacked by the “muggles” of the village. That’s no doubt the time when Towa died, or transformed, or whatever indeed happened to him – and Quon seems to have lived his life trying to live it down.
Quon is a classic BONES hero in many ways, and it seems as if his past is more complex than his present. At the moment he seems to be a creature of pure empathy – a Christ figure if ever there was one, taking the sins of others unto himself and attempting to offer them salvation. He turns the other cheek, doesn’t hate his enemies, and there’s definitely something messianic about the amont of physical damage he takes and his seeming inability to die from it. Of course he also comes off as dangerously naïve, putting the entire Fantasium Garden and all his charges at risk by saving Shuu/Epsilon, but it’s hard to blame him – I don’t think Quon is capable of living any other way.
Epsilon is the other main focus of the episode, continuing the personal journey we saw begun last time with his interest in Sartre. Shuu’s story is no doubt the best thread in this story, the most nuanced and powerful. Sadly, it appears that everything leading up to his rescue by Shuu and recovery at Fantasium was a plan by Kestos to infiltrate the place using Shuu as a mole. That Shuu has developed free will is irrelevant, as Kestos clearly sees the cyborgs as disposable and inhuman and thinks nothing of forcing Epsilon to help destroy the Gardens against his will – which leads to Shuu going into full esper mode. Personally, I think we’re pretty far into the story to have received no character development for Kestos, and I think Towa no Quon suffers for not giving us an understanding of why he does the things he does. As a straight-up cartoon villain he’s one of the weaker elements of the series. We have quite the seeming cliffhanger, with Quon seemingly killed by Alpha – but the messiah vibes continue, as proved by the preview (not that there was any doubt) as it looks as if Quon will make a heroic return. Given that this is classic BONES through and through, I somewhat expect Quon to sacrifice himself for real at the close of the series – I think he’s ready to die in any case.
Episode 5 is out, of course, though I’m going to wait for a better-quality version to be available before I view and blog it. BONES is a studio that seems to have lost their way in recent seasons, veering from their standard formulas with middling success, so it’s easy to wonder if this sea ries was given a lesser role because it was deemed too “old school”. It could be the tragic death of its creator Iida Umonosuke that’s to blame as well. As BONES is recycling one of its greatest successes – Eureka Seven – for a sequel, I wonder if they’re trying to get back with their roots to some extent. There’s an element of financial motivation to it as well, of course, as there was with Gonzo (admittedly a studio in much worse shape) reviving Last Exile. I think if BONES has given Towa no Quon two cours and promoted it as a flagship series, they might have had a major success with it, and reconnected with a lot of their core fans.